Signs Preceding the End of the World

by

Yuri Herrera

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The “Patriotic” Policeman Character Analysis

A policeman who lines up a number of (mostly “homegrown”) Mexican Americans and yells at them for failing to obey the commands of their white superiors and accept their place at the bottom of American society’s racial hierarchy. He calls himself a “patriot,” pointing to the way that white identity is conflated with American identity, turning racism and white supremacy into means of “defending” and “loving” the United States, while attempts to include diverse groups in American society are taken as seditious or “un-American.” The policeman shows how public servants can turn their job—defending and supporting the people—into its opposite—deciding who gets to be included in “the people” and attacking those who fall outside of their definitions. Makina writes a long plea to the “patriotic” policeman. She points out his racist assumptions about Latinx people and their continuity with the history of slavery and racial caste in the United States, mocking his beliefs that Mexicans “deserve to be chained by neck and feet” and “are happy to die for you.” This astonishes the policeman, who evidently did not expect the people he was oppressing to speak back to him. The policeman storms away, leaving his victims free but traumatized, a sentiment not unfamiliar to many Latinx people living in the United States.

The “Patriotic” Policeman Quotes in Signs Preceding the End of the World

The Signs Preceding the End of the World quotes below are all either spoken by The “Patriotic” Policeman or refer to The “Patriotic” Policeman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Immigration, Myth, and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the And Other Stories edition of Signs Preceding the End of the World published in 2015.
Chapter 8 Quotes

We are to blame for this destruction, we who don’t speak your tongue and don’t know how to keep quiet either. We who didn’t come by boat, who dirty up your doorsteps with our dust, who break your barbed wire. We who came to take your jobs, who dream of wiping your shit, who long to work all hours. We who fill your shiny clean streets with the smell of food, who brought you violence you’d never known, who deliver your dope, who deserve to be chained by neck and feet. We who are happy to die for you, what else could we do? We, the ones who are waiting for who knows what. We, the dark, the short, the greasy, the shifty, the fat, the anemic. We the barbarians.

Related Characters: Makina (speaker), The “Patriotic” Policeman
Page Number: 99-100
Explanation and Analysis:
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The “Patriotic” Policeman Character Timeline in Signs Preceding the End of the World

The timeline below shows where the character The “Patriotic” Policeman appears in Signs Preceding the End of the World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8: The Snake that Lies in Wait
Racism, Inequality, and Social Change Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Soon after Makina sets out from the barracks, “a horribly pasty policeman” runs into her and makes her kneel with a lineup of Mexican men who “all... (full context)
Racism, Inequality, and Social Change Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Makina grabs the man’s paper and pencil, confusing the policeman, and then writes for a long while. The policeman grabs the paper and reads a... (full context)